This is a guest post by a dear sister in Christ – shared with her husband’s permission. They both desire God to use their story to bless other couples who are struggling. I realize every husband is different – and this approach may not be how God leads you to respond to your husband. That is totally fine. Follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting much more than anyone else’s story.
There are some husbands who are abusive who may respond violently to any attempt on a wife’s part to stand against sin. Please prayerfully consider any approach and know your husband. If you are not safe, please get somewhere safe. This post is not intended for wives whose husbands are violent, drunk, high, not in their right minds, or physically abusive. God never condones abuse or sin against anyone – and neither do I. All sin is abusive on some level. God never gives anyone a free pass to sin against anyone else – no matter how others may treat us. God commands us as believers to “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
A note from the author before we get started –
Some are going to see this scene of my being yelled at as “abusive” behavior from my husband. I have never feared bodily harm from my husband. His yelling did not scare me, just wore me out. But I became a participant in the cycle, too. We didn’t have a love and respect “bank account” stored up at this point, so things were tense in general. Our marriage has now been restored.
In answer to your question how God used different situations to turn our hearts to Him:
First, I needed to understand the huge amount of disrespectful attitudes and behaviors I was guilty of, blind to, and how dishonoring they were to God, and how they impacted the heart of my husband. Hurt in husbands often looks like anger. It’s a good rule of thumb for me that if my husband has gotten really angry with me, something I’ve said or done has felt disrespectful to him. He may not even be aware of his hurt at the moment because he processes his feelings/emotions differently from how I do. Sometimes even months or years later, he’ll look back and realize what was going on in his mind at the time. That always amazes me.
I wish I would have made more of an effort to understand the male mind.
The world will tell us that women are better at relationships and if men would just listen to us and take our advice, everything would be better in our marriages. God designed men and women differently – not one better than the other. As long as we arrogantly think they need to relate like we do, we will destroy the harmony, proving the point that we are not better in relationships because we fail to even understand the validity of them having unique needs and ways of thinking and relating.
Shaunti Feldhahn’s little book, “For Women Only“ was an eye opener for me (from April – This book was very helpful for me, as well, to better understand men). It’s written after extensive polling and research of men. It’s a gem!..and quick and easy reading. “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggrichs was used to introduce me to the concept of respect, but didn’t get into enough examples of how that worked out practically for me (from April, Dr. Eggerichs has written subsequent books that have gone into more detail about respect). But it had an important role in revealing my disrespect initially. So I recommend it. I read it with tears of regret but thanksgiving over what was revealed in me.
With our yelling matches, I got to the point that I was just so weary of them.There was a situation where he was clearly doing something, that after seeking the Lord in prayer about it and seeking advice from an older Godly woman I trusted, I was certain I needed to confront my husband on the matter.
I dreaded it because I knew no matter how it was said, he was going to explode. I just didn’t know how to implement respect when it was going to turn to yelling.
This is the advice that was given me by a godly mentoring wife who knew and loved me dearly, and it was amazing when I put it into practice in this situation:
I am responsible to God only for my end of things. I was to always “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), and that included being respectful to my husband. I was to keep my words brief with as little emotion as possible…..
Because this was a rare case where his choices were clearly inappropriate and threatening to the marriage, I had to be firm and tell him it was ” unacceptable.” That was my key word to keep me on point.
- I was told if he angrily yelled back that I was to quietly wait for him to stop.
- I would briefly repeat my point with as little emotion as possible, and hold my ground respectfully— not take the bait to engage in the old pattern of yelling back.
After this went on for a few rounds and I did not join in the yelling but waited until he stopped, and just repeated my point briefly and respectfully, he finally screamed back something to the effect that the conversation was over. I calmly went upstairs to the bedroom and quietly shut the door and got on the bed. I sat amazed that God answered my prayer to stay firmly confident in what I needed to communicate without repeating the old yelling game.
Suddenly, he angrily threw open the door and started yelling again. He had a new argument to make me back down on my stance or engage him in the fight. I watched him carrying on for quite some time, staying detached from his behavior, and remaining completely calm. Part of how I did that was by looking at his behavior intellectually instead of reacting emotionally. In my head I was actually thinking, “Wow. Look how completely out of control he seems to be with his emotions. How interesting.” Still, I did not talk back disrespectfully or show disrespect in my demeanor. I waited a long time for him to stop so it was my turn to speak again.
I firmly, yet calmly:
- explained my original point
- acknowledged I heard what he just said
- went back to the point at hand
I watched his face when I stopped talking. I could see he was completely baffled at this new shift in dynamics and was somewhat confused. He turned and walked out, slamming the door behind him. My heart was racing a bit, but I was also AMAZED at how it felt to keep respectful but in control of my emotions. I was thanking God for allowing me to do that hard thing and to experience His power.
This one episode resulted in my husband changing the course of his actions as I requested, and not doing the thing that was unacceptable. He did it without another argument about it.
Is this some magic formula?? No, it absolutely is not. He still could have chosen to continue down the road he’d been heading. I would have had another decision to make had he taken that route. But I would have still had to answer to God for MY choices only, and to remain respectful as unto God.
This was a very rare case of his actions being so grossly wrong, it would have been a deal breaker in my mind if it continued. But I didn’t tell him that. I simple repeated that it was “unacceptable” respectfully, briefly, with as little emotion as possible. There was some passion in my speech, but it was very under control and just enough to let him understand how strongly my convictions were about it. He had to answer to God for his decisions and reactions, and I rested in knowing I would answer to God for my behavior and attitudes. I chose to make pleasing God my goal.
One of the things I sensed was going on during this scene was my husband was able to hear himself more clearly. Some of his arguments were pretty weak but he was using them with full gusto. I think my not interrupting helped him hear himself more clearly. I also believe I gained respect from him as a result of my new behavior.
There is much more to our story. But this was the beginning.
Has God ever led you in a specific way to handle conflict with your husband that you would like to share?
Gentlemen, what are some godly ways you believe wives might respectfully confront their husbands about sin, or respond respectfully when a husband is yelling or being harsh?
Conflict Resolution in Marriage – by Rev. Weaver